Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Same Sex Marriage In New York

After Godfrey v. Spano: Is New York's High Court Ready to Recognize Out of State Same Sex Marriages? is an excellent May 2010 NYS Bar Journal article. The article discusses the NYS Court of Appeals decisions in Hernandez v. Robles and Godfrey v. Spano and concludes that the NYS Court of Appeals may be ready to recognize gay marriages legally contracted in other states. The article contains cites to gay marriage cases from other states and is certainly worth reading.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

Articles, Discrimination Law | Permalink


This is actually fairly old news. Courts in the 1st and 3rd (appellate) departments in New York have already either granted divorces to sane-sex couples validly married in other jurisdictions or have dissolved civil unions entered into elsewhere. Recognition of non-New York same-sex marriages would not necessarily involve an overturning of the earlier NY Court of Appeals decision denying a right to enter into a same-sex marriage in New York.

Posted by: Steve Zorn | May 21, 2010 8:24:18 PM

I thank Professor Rubinstein for the kind words about my NYSBA Journal article on the implications of Godfrey v. Spano. Steve Zorn, whom I had the pleasure to teach when I was an adjunct professor at Fordham in the '80s, is correct in his comment, but only to a certain extent.

There are, as he writes, decisions in which lower New York courts have recognized out-of-state same-sex marriages. One such case, Martinez v. County of Monroe, is discussed at length in my article. Steve is also correct when he states that recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages by the New York Court of Appeals will not require a reversal of that Court's Hernandez v. Robles decision. My article does not suggest otherwise.

But what Steve's comment overlooks -- what is "news" -- is that, in Godfrey v. Spano, New York's highest Court came close to recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages for the first time. Indeed, three of the Court's seven judges would have done just that in Godfrey, and I predict that a majority of the Court will grant such recognition when the issue next comes before the Court.

The recent decision in Debra H. v. Janice R., 2010 WL 1752168 (N.Y. May 4, 2010), is yet another indication that the Court is poised to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. In Debra H., the Court -- in an exercise of comity -- recognized the parental rights of a lesbian petitioner based on her status as "parent" under a Vermont civil union. Recognition of the rights of a gay "spouse," legally married in another state, cannot be far behind.

Posted by: Frank Gulino | May 27, 2010 4:54:59 PM

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